06/28/2015 02:01 EDT | Updated 06/28/2015 07:59 EDT

Istanbul Gay Pride Rally Hit With Police Water Cannons, Tear Gas

ISTANBUL — Turkish police used water cannons and tear gas against gay pride marchers trying to rally in Istanbul's central square on Sunday, forcing the thousands of demonstrators to gather several blocks away.

Between 100 and 200 protesters were chased away from Taksim Square as they began gathering in the late afternoon. Police hemmed the demonstrators into a small corner of the square and then fired several jets of water to force them down a side street. The Dogan News Agency says rubber pellets were also used.

Within minutes, the noisy but otherwise peaceful rally restarted a few blocks away and grew to several thousand people as the day wore on. An Associated Press reporter at the scene occasionally smelled tear gas, but there didn't appear any further attempt by police to interfere with the protest.

It's not clear why police prevented the rally from gathering at Taksim, a traditional focal point for protests. Turkey is one of only a few Muslim countries not to ban homosexuality, although homophobia remains widespread.

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